Posted by: catamarantwooceans | January 20, 2013

Touring Sri Lanka

12.1.13 – Saturday – At 0700 the minibus with Marlin and a driver named Sumodu picked us up at the harbor gate. We started by driving north on the main highway then branched off to the east, towards the interior. First impressions: everything is so green! Sven and I were playing with the word "Lush" trying to grade places we saw and inventing superlatives like:"super lush" etc.

Passing a town called Padukka, there was an operational antique steam locomotive on the rails.

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A beautiful piece of machinery.

On to the town of Pinnawalla, where they have a big elephant orphanage. We came just in time to watch the elephants bath in the river and then herded back to their sanctuary.

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From there we drove to Kandy, once the capital of the country, a scenic town higher in the mountains. We had lunch in a restaurant named "Devon"; it was big and full of people, waiters were running all over with colorful and appetizing looking dishes and a station for assembling the popular ones, like vegetable curry (which I had) was right in the dining room.

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Great food and fresh fruit juices and the meal for two cost the equivalent of 4.5$!

Next to the obligatory visit to the Sacred Tooth Relic Temple, where according to the local belief a tooth of the Buddha was smuggled over from India hidden in the hair of a certain princess.

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We spent the night in a simple Kandy hotel.

13.1.13 – Sunday – From Kandy we climbed higher up in the mountains which reach 7500 feet and more. The views were magnificent; mountains covered by rain forests, waterfalls, the fertile earth cultivated in terraces and tea plantations everywhere.

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The multimillion dollar tea corporations amass wealth using the low paid pickers like the one in the picture below.

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The leaves are being picked by hand – no machine use is possible – collected in sacks and brought to the factory for processing.

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Some of the plots are on steep hills and the pickers, many of them women, have to walk the precarious slopes to do their jobs. We visited one of the factories and were guided by a young, sari clad lady, who in a very didactic tone explained the tea-making process.

Marlin came up with the idea that we take the mountain train and do part of the way on it. This turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip. The train (about an hour late) took us through beautiful country, waterfalls, vegetable growing on terraces and the train itself – starting with the antique equipment still operating in the station and the people hanging from the doors of the "economy class".

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In one of the stations a local beauty and her mother were sitting in the car opposite our window.

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A great trip!

We drove on to spend the night in Tissamaharama, near the Yala National Park to be visited the next day.

14.1.13 – Monday – The safari vehicle was waiting at 0530; you better get up early if you want to see the animals. A few pictures will tell the story better than any words will.

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Nature lovers – Sri Lanka is for you! We were very happy to have done that tour.

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